Skip links

How Can Clubs Serve as the Neighborhood Main Street? Community Building

BACK IN THE DAY, the main street of any town or city was the center of community life, offering food, entertainment and retail destinations. Today, true main streets are rare and represent a nostalgic era of times gone by when communities gathered to dine, see movies, shop and socialize—exactly what today’s private club can provide.

People want to connect, whether it is on an actual main street or not doesn’t really matter. Geographically, most clubs already are located in the center of a community. At ClubCorp, our focus is to create lifestyle clubs, with amenities and programming that help members connect at every level—with their families, friends, health and community thereby providing more tangible and intangible value to membership.

  • Many early country clubs in the U.S. were formed to provide an outlet for member recreation that included golf, tennis and even fox hunting, horseback riding and ice skating. Today, members still look to their clubs for recreational and fitness opportunities—running five miles on the treadmill, taking a cycling class or working with a personal trainer. Beyond workout equipment and classes, clubs can offer nutritionists, fitness festivals and competitions that promote health, fitness and wellness and engage and connect members.
  • Clubs may not be the retail center of the community, yet in addition to fully-stocked tennis and golf pro shops, clubs can support local businesses through craft sales, business forums, sponsorship opportunities, local wine and beer tastings or local food trucks during special events. Not only does collaborating with local businesses enhance the value of membership, but it promotes goodwill between the community and the club.
  • Give your members a variety of dining options—from a “neighborhood” bar and grill where members can relax and watch the latest sporting events to a contemporary dining space featuring trendy cuisine for your foodie members. Don’t underestimate the contributions a high quality chef can bring to your club—creativity, quality and a following.
  • When planning your calendars, think of every member of the family and utilize every area of the club. Craft beer tastings, comedy shows, food festivals, and watch parties for everyone and everything from football and basketball games, golf tournaments to Hollywood ceremonies are great for the adults. Whereas the entire family will use the club during such events as trivia nights, ice cream socials, Oktoberfest, Fourth of July and Veterans’ Day parades and 5K runs.

With a little planning and old-fashioned ingenuity, you can make your club the contemporary main street of your community and watch the members stroll in.

Tom Bennison is senior vice president of business development at ClubCorp, the largest owner and operator of private golf and country clubs. He can be reached at [email protected] or visit